Team: Houston Oilers
Career: As a rookie in 1988, Jerry Glanville loved Cris Dishman, which is a nice way of saying everyone else really disliked him. A big-hitter with an even bigger mouth, Dishman racked up personal fouls like Earl Campbell racked up rushing yards. In short, he was the poster boy for everything fans hated about the Glanville era. But Dishman’s bravado did more than just draw the opponents’ ire; it drew attention away from just how good a player the former fifth round pick was turning out to be. And sure enough, a more mature Dishman emerged during Jack Pardee’s watch, and so, too, did an All-Pro cornerback.
Early in his career, Dishman made his mark on special teams and showed an inclination for making the big play, something that would become his specialty. During his first two years in the league, Dishman blocked two punts, a field goal and scored his first NFL touchdown after scooping up a blocked punt (courtesy of Bubba McDowell). But special team coaches across the league weren’t the only ones having to adjust to Dishman’s presence. He was also pushing veteran starting CB Steve Brown.
By 1990, Dishman was Houston’s full-time left corner, and responded with 4 interceptions and 16 passes defensed. All just a prelude to 1991, his best season as a pro. That year, Dishman had an unprecedented seven game stretch in which he forced at least one turnover in each contest. And these were not mundane, easy-to-miss turnovers, either. The streak began in week two, when the Oilers traveled to Cincinnati, where the team had lost four straight. On the game’s opening possession, Bengals’ QB Boomer Esiason hit Rodney Hollman for what looked to be a sure 6 points when out of nowhere, Dishman caught the big tight end and stripped the ball at the goal line. The play opened the floodgates, and Houston rolled, 30-7. Dishman’s heroics continued the following week when his end zone interception preserved a tough Monday Night win against Kansas City. In a key week five showdown against AFC Champion Denver, Dishman intercepted QB John Elway early and set up Houston’s second score, and then, five plays later, picked up a fumble for Houston’s third score, leading the way to a 42-14 rout.
He wasn’t done. In week 7, he recovered Sammie Smith’s goal line fumble late in the game to help Houston hold off the Dolphins, 17-13, and then, four weeks later, intercepted a pass inside Houston’s 10-yard line to help preserve a 28-24 victory over Cleveland. For the year, Dishman picked off 6 passes, defensed 23, recovered 3 fumbles and forced 2 more, earning him his first, and only trip to Hawaii.
After suffering through a hold-out and then various injuries in 1992, Dishman rebounded in 1993 under Buddy Ryan, and once again, showed he still had a knack for being at the right place at the right time. Dishman tied a career high with 6 interceptions and set a career high by forcing four fumbles. He scored his third career touchdown and, as he had done in 1991, managed an interception in four consecutive games, the last of which (at Cleveland) set up a game-winning field goal.
The lanky, speedy corner from Purdue was a key component to Houston’s revival as a defensive force. His one-on-one coverage skills allowed coordinators to take more chances with blitzes, creating havoc for opposing offenses. He was also a bit of a trendsetter; one of the first "big" corners, Dishman proved speed was not the only asset needed on coverage. And for all his talk and braggadocio, he did his fair share of backing it up, becoming one of the league’s better corners. He left the Oilers after the 1994 season and is still active in the NFL.
Houston Highlight: Dishman’s finest moment came in a Christmas Day showdown with San Francisco in 1993. Picked to cover the league’s eventual MVP, Jerry Rice, Dishman held the future Hall of Famer scoreless (Rice scored 16 TD’s that year). Early in the first quarter, he thwarted one of San Francisco’s only scoring threats with an acrobatic interception of Steve Young in the end zone. Dishman somehow moved in front of Rice for the pick, helping Houston secure one of its biggest regular season wins ever, 10-7. Cris Dishman Return to Houston Pro Football Find out who else has made the All-Time Team.